Where do you get your ideas? is probably one of the most asked questions of authors. Ask a hundred of them and you will get a hundred different answers. And those answers will be different if you ask them the next day. Why? Because ideas are all over. I pull from personal experiences, people I know, people I see, stories I’ve heard loved ones tell, and more.
Most writers are introverts, which makes me something of an odd duck. I’m an extrovert and have no problem talking to people. One of my favorite things to do is get people telling stories and see what comes out. This is no different with the Amish. I am blessed to have Amish friends who live in Lancaster County, and I love to hear them tell their stories. See, most Amish don’t get on the telephone and chat up their friends all afternoon long. Most stories are shared in person. Sisters’ Day, after church, out to supper (yes, my Amish friends love to eat out), and even just an afternoon sitting in the shade while peeling apples or shelling peas.
Sisters’ Day is a wonderful phenomenon where sisters (go figure) get together for all sorts of activities. They can have cookie exchanges, make comfort patches, go shopping, or just sit around and eat and talk. The Sisters’ Day I got to experience was a canning day. The sisters split the cost of supplies and canned a whole bunch of soup. We all worked together chopping, mixing, boiling, and sealing the jars. And did I say a whole bunch? We canned over eighty quarts of soup!
Sisters’ Day is where I heard about an Amish group of women who had banded together because none could have children. It’s also where I heard about an Amish woman who was trying to adopt two little English girls and the troubles they faced. I heard about a widow who was marrying her husband’s best friend in order to have help taking care of her children. There were tales of Amish men abandoning their wives, Amish wives abandoning their husbands, and a host of other problems that most of us wouldn’t dream the Amish face. Trouble conceiving, fertility treatments, special needs children, dietary problems, husbands and wives losing that honeymoon feeling. It’s all there and more.
I have often said that I take ideas from the “English” world and imagine how the Amish would cope, but The Quilting Circle stories are unique as they came straight from the Amish themselves.